I was in my front garden when I saw a young couple walking their dogs. By the time they reached my home he was ahead less than ten feet with one dog while she trailed with the second dog. The distance did not deter the conversation she was having and although I noticed, she did not seem to, her partner was not engaged in the conversation.

I have a friend who believes that her experience of being alone is because she does not have a partner. When I saw this couple, I recalled my response to her – having a partner does not ensure that you are not alone.

Over the years, I have had clients who have been married or partnered for years, some for decades, who claim that they are alone.

Some share that their partner has been emotionally distant since their early days together while others say their partner has checked-out more recently. The headline of a recent Ask Amy column may capture it – Married to Empty Shell.

Lots of circumstances contribute. One partner is a workaholic. Another is an extreme introvert who needs little interpersonal interaction. And then there are those among us who are sports-widows, having lost out to the 24/7 availability of televised sports from around the world. The circumstances are different but alone partners abound.

It is true that partnering may result in resources being shared, possibly including time and daily responsibilities. I have had some clients share that this describes the realistic border between alone and partnered.

Some who are no longer partnered say they barely notice a difference except that someone else no longer controls the TV remote – a comment that should give the unpartnered something to consider.

Suffice to say, my clients’ experiences suggest that the presence of a partner does not preempt the feeling that one is alone.

The negative experience of being alone however does not paint a complete picture.

For the partnered there is a danger in holding onto a hope, expectation or fantasy that another is necessary to be complete. Most unpartnered have figured out that each of us is the source of our own happiness and completion.

If you are lonely, whether partnered or alone, it may be time for you to ask yourself – if my soul planned this, what did I hope to gain? Whatever your motivation, you can be certain that your soul planned for you to experience aloneness.

Perhaps you wanted to become more independent or to learn to deepen your appreciation for yourself? Perhaps you wanted not to be so distracted with a partner so that you could more easily prioritize yourself? Perhaps you wanted to focus on developing self-love and self-compassion? Or perhaps, you wanted to go deep within to connect to your divine essence and having lots of quiet alone time facilitates?

You know yourself better than everyone else and are in the best position to answer.

The significant people, events and circumstances in our lives are not accidents. They are the result of the plan we put in place for our current lifetime. Now while it is true that our souls forget the intensity of pain experienced in human incarnations, it is equally true that they recognize capabilities. Our souls know that we have the strength to cope with being alone when there is a higher purpose.

This is not to say that one will be overjoyed in aloneness.

It is a reminder that there are advantages. Whether you are like the young woman walking the dogs with her partner or live alone, each day holds opportunities to find inner peace, share love and experience joy. These are the rewards of our personal efforts and not the result of our outer circumstance. Ask anyone who is happy yet married to an empty shell.